I used to listen to Imus in the Morning while getting ready for work. I listened, despite the show host, because he had interesting guests. (The host was a rather ignorant bore.) Eventually I quit listening because I tired of listening to him spread righteous nonsense about the link between vaccines and autism. Please, please, please, I thought, just pick your head-up beyond the flat horizon and the edge of the world and consider the curvature.
And he even got otherwise reasonable, intelligent guests to sign-on to his witch-hunt crusade.
Well, the garlic is being hung from many popular internet portals to drive off the pseudoscience vampires of fear. The study showing a connection between vaccines and autism has not just been called into question, it has been shown to be a fraud. Further the reputable medical journal, the British Journal of Medicine, that originally published the story has retracted.
But the damage has been done. From an article in AOL News (chosen by this author for its pop culture publishing slant):
Nevertheless, trumpeted by activists and a sensationalist media, after the article appeared vaccination levels fell in both the U.K. and the U.S., while the diseases they prevented surged. “One person’s research set us back a decade, and we’re just now recovering from that,” Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego
And incidence of the very diseases meant to be prevented with these vaccines are increasing.
California is suffering its worst pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak since 1947, with about 8,000 cases last year. In the 1980s, there were just a handful annually. Sixty percent of those hospitalized have been infants. Ten have died.
Finally from the Michael Specter in the New Yorker
If only it were possible to retract the fear and confusion the article caused. Unfortunately, that could take at least another decade